The Vow of the Student

The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo called “The Guru Is Your Diamond”

When the student accepts the teacher, they must honor that vow and they must make a similar vow in their own way.  That vow is contained in The Seven Line Prayer.  “Following you, I will practice.”  Even though the prayer is directly to Guru Rinpoche, the prayer has an inner, outer and secret level of meaning.  We recite it thinking of Guru Rinpoche on a lotus having the intention, hopefully, to understand that even though this appears as Guru Rinpoche on the lotus, it is inseparable from our own Root Gurus, same Nature, same taste, same essence, same uncontrived primordial essence.  And so, every time we recite the prayer to Guru Rinpoche, The Seven Line Prayer, we reconfirm that entire process—recognizing that Guru Rinpoche was the one that came from Orgyen, that he was born on a lotus in an extraordinary way.  This is like our saying, “I understand that this is not ordinary.  I understand that this did not happen as ordinary births, as ordinary conditions, happen.  And so having understood, I also promise to follow and to practice.”  And then we ask for the Guru’s blessing, Guru Pedma Siddhi Hung.  Guru Pedma, grant me your blessings.

There is so much condensed into the power of that little prayer that I make you say again and again and again. There’s so much.  One can go so deeply with just that one prayer.  One can move through the stages of recognition to a depth that we didn’t think we could ever reach.  One can create that connection by reciting again and again and again, “Following you I will Practice. Following you I will practice.”  And so, even though those meaningful words are simple, we can understand them more deeply and more deeply and more deeply.

“Following you I will practice.”  What does it even mean?  Does it mean I dress like Guru Rinpoche or act like Guru Rinpoche or do I wear some of his funny earrings, or…  What do I do?  (I’ve got some funny earrings on, by the way.)  That’s not it.  “Following you I will practice.”  First, we practice the way Guru Rinpoche practiced—for the sake of sentient beings.  That’s how Guru Rinpoche practiced.  He came and was born into the world for no reason other than to benefit beings.  He didn’t have to come and learn; he didn’t have to come and hang out.  Like Lord Buddha himself. He didn’t have to come and learn or hang out, and yet he came for the benefit of sentient beings.

And so that’s the way in which we promise to practice. Not only throughout this prayer, or throughout this hour that I am practicing, but throughout this day, throughout this week, throughout this month, throughout this year, throughout all my lifetimes, may I follow the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and liberate beings. We’re talking here about liberating beings from suffering.  This is what Guru Rinpoche did.  Yes, he taught.  Yes, he hid termas.  Yes, he gave us the means, the method.  But the intention was about liberating sentient beings.  Following you, therefore, I will practice.

And so that’s our commitment.  We take on this tremendous commitment, this tremendous opportunity to liberate beings from the clutches and the ravages of samsara.  And that means we’ll live the week like that, the month like that, the year like that, the decade like that, our lives like that.  And at the time of our death, we will make prayers to be reborn following Guru Rinpoche.  And in our next life, we are reborn again to continue and to benefit beings.

This is the method.  This is the way.  This is the powerhouse.  We rely on this promise,  this blessing.

Copyright © Jetsunma Ahkon Norbu Lhamo All rights reserved

 

The Power of Ngondro

The following is respectfully quoted from “Natural Liberation” by Padmasambhava:

OM VARJASATTVA SAMAYAM ANUPĀLAYA VAJRASATTVA TVENOPATISTHA DRDHO ME BHAVA SUTOSYO ME BHAVA SUPOSYO ME BHAVA ANURAKTO ME BHAVA SARVA SIDDHIM ME PRAYACCHA SARVA KARMASU CA ME CITTAM ŚRĪYAM KURU HŪM HA HA HA HA HOH BHAGAVAN SARVATATHĀGATA VAJRA MĀ ME MUŃCA VAJRA BHAVA MAHĀSAMAYA SATTVA ĀH

This is an extremely important practice. It’s dealt with quite concisely here, but more more elaborate instruction can be found in other teachings on the preliminary practices. This practice is of very tangible benefit. There are other teachings on Atiyoga and so forth that we may consider more esoteric or advanced, but it’s questionable how deeply benefited we can be by those and how much we can truly enter into experience of the Great Perfection. Here, though, is something of practical benefit. If you are familiar with this practice, it’s good to share it with others who may be beginners. By such a practice as this, the two types of obscurations can be purified. Once all of your obscurations have been completely purified, you are a buddha; and that means you have realized the Great Perfection.

Due to ignorance, delusion and stupidity,
I have transgressed my samayas, and they have degenerated.
O spiritual mentor, protector, protect me!
Glorious Lord Vajradhara,
Merciful being of great compassion,
Lord of the world, protect us!
Please cleanse and purify the whole mass
Of sins, obscurations, faults, downfalls, and taints.
By this virtue, may I now
Swiftly actualize Vajrasattva
And quickly bring every sentient being
Without exception to that state.
O Vajrasattva, may we become exactly
Like your form, with your retinue, life span, pure realm,
And with your supreme , excellent signs.

OFFERING THE MANDALA

Once you have begun purifying the two types of obscurations, there is the task of accumulating the two collections of merit and of knowledge for one’s own benefit and the benefit of others. The welfare of others is accomplished in the realization of the Rūpakāya, or form embodiment, of the Buddha; and it is toward accomplishing that end that one offers the mandala.

OM VAJRA BHŪMI ĀH HUM
The basis becomes the powerful golden ground.
OM VAJRA REKHE ĀH HŪM
On the periphery is a surrounding jeweled iron fence.
In the center is the supreme king of mountains,
Majestic in its composition from the five kinds of precious substances.
Lovely in shape, beautiful, and delightful to behold,
Seven golden mountains are surrounded by seven concentric seas.
In the east is the continent Videha, in the south, Jambudvipa,
The west is adorned by Godàniya,
And in the north is the great Uttarakuru;
With the eight sub-continents of Deha and Videha,
Cāmara and Aparacāmara,
Śāthā and Uttaramantrina,
Kurava and Kaurava,
The sun, moon, Rāhu and kālāgni,
And this bounty of wealth and enjoyments of gods and humans
I offer to the precious spiritual mentor and his retinue.
Out of compassion, please accept this for the sake of the world.

Who is Padmasambhava?

PadmasambhavaMandarava

The following is respectfully quoted from “The History of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism” by Dudjom Rinpoche:

He studied all the sūtras, tantras, and sciences under the many scholars and accomplished masters of India, of whom the foremost were: the eight great awareness-holders, from whom he received the Eight Classes of Means for Attainment; Buddhaguhya, from whom he received the Magical Net; and Śri Simha, from whom he received the Great Perfection. Training himself thus, he fully understood all doctrines after studying them only once. He could see the deities even without propitiating them. In this way, he became renowned as Loden Chokse (Intelligent Boon-seeker), and he demonstrated the ultimate attainment of a holder of the awareness of spiritual maturation.

Then he gained influence over Mandāravā, the daughter of King Ārsadhara of Sahor, who possessed marks of a dākinī. He took her to the Māratika Cave, to serve as the consort for his practice; and for three months they practised the means for attainment of longevity. Lord Amitāyus actually came there and empowered them, and he consecrated them to be no different than himself. He granted them one billion rites of longevity, whereby Padmasambhava attained the accomplishment of awareness-holder endowed with power over the duration of his life.

Having thus attained the body of indestructible reality that is beyond birth and death, Padmasambhava went to subdue the kingdom of Sahor. When the king and his ministers tried to immolate him, he performed the miracle [of transforming the pyre into] a lake of sesame oil, in the midst of which he remained seated on a lotus. Thus he secured them in faith and introduced them all to the doctrine, so that they reached the level of no-return.

The Vajra Master: from “Dakini Teachings” by Padmasambhava

The following is respectfully quoted from “Dakini Teachings” by Padmasambhava as translated by Erik Pema Kunsang:

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: If a master himself has not been conferred empowerments and he gives them to others, will they receive empowerments or not?

The master replied: Although you may be appointed by a charlatan to the rank of minister thus entrusted with power, you will only meet with misfortune. Likewise, although you may have an empowerment conferred upon you by a master who himself has not received it, your mind will be ruined. Moreover you will destroy the minds of others and go to the lower realms like cattle yoked together falling into an abyss. Carried away within an iron box with no exits, you will be sent to the bottom of hell.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Isn’t the offering of a gift when receiving empowerment just something you yourself have invented?

The master replied: All the teachings and tantras explain that at this present time when you have obtained the fortune of a human body after being on errant paths for innumerable aeons, you should, free from the three spheres of concepts, offer your body, life, and spouse to the master who shows the path of unexcelled enlightenment.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How severe is the misdeed of breaking the master’s command?

The master replied: The misdeeds of the three levels of existence do not match even a fraction of the evil of breaking the command of your master. Through this you will take rebirth in the Unceasing Vajra Hell and find no liberation.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we regard the master possessing the oral instructions from whom we request teachings?

The master replied in verse:

You should know that the master is more important
Than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons,
Because all the buddhas of the aeons
Appeared through following masters.
There will never be any buddhas
Who have not followed a master.

The master is the Buddha, the master is the Dharma.
Likewise the master is also the Sangha.
He is the embodiment of all buddhas.
He is the nature of Vajradhara.
He is the root of the Three Jewels.

Keep the command of your vajra master
Without breaking even a fraction of his words.
If you break the command of your vajra master,
You will fall into Unceasing Vajra Hell
From which there will be no chance for liberation.
By serving your master you will receive the blessings.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Which is more important, the master or the yidam deity?

The master replied: Do not regard the master and the yidam as different, because it is the master who introduces the yidam to you. By always venerating the master at the crown of your head you will be blessed and your obstacles will be cleared away. If you regard the master and yidam as being different in quality or importance you are holding misconceptions.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Why is it important to practice the yidam deity?

The master replied: It is essential to practice a yidam deity because through that you will attain siddhis, your obstacles will be removed, you will obtain powers, receive blessings, and give rise to realization. Since all qualities result from practicing the yidam deity, then without the yidam deity you will just be an ordinary person. By practicing the yidam deity you attain the siddhis, so the yidam deity is essential.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: When practicing a yidam deity, how should we meditate and practice in order to attain accomplishment?

The master replied: Since means and knowledge are to practice the spontaneously present body, speech and mind through the method of yoga sadhana, they will be accomplished no matter how you carry out the sadhana aspects endowed with body, speech, and mind. They will be accomplished when the sadhana and the recitation are practiced in a sufficient amount.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: How should we approach the sugata yidam deity?

The master replied: Realize that you and the yidam deity are not two and that there is no yidam deity apart from yourself. You approach the yidam deity when you realize that your nature is the state of nonarising dharmakaya.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Which yidam deity is better to practice, a peaceful or wrathful one?

The master replied: Since means and knowledge are practicing the spontaneously present body, speech, and mind through the method of yoga sadhana, all the countless sugatas, peaceful and wrathful, chief figures and retinues, manifest in accordance with those to be tamed in whatever way is necessary–as peaceful and wrathful, chief figures and retinues. But as they are all one taste in the state of dharmakaya, each person can practice whichever yidam he feels inclined toward.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: If we practice one yidam deity, will that be the same as practicing all sugatas?

The master replied: The body, speech, and mind of all deities are manifested by the three mayas in accordance with the perception of those to be tamed. In fact, no matter how they appear, if you practice one you will be practicing them all. If you accomplish one you will have accomplished them all.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Is there any fault in practicing one yidam deity and then practicing another?

The master replied: Although the sugatas manifest as various kinds of families and forms, out of skillful means to tame beings, they are in actuality inseparable, the state of equality. If you were able to practice all the buddhas with this realization of their inseparability, your merit would be most eminent. But if you were to do so while regarding the yidam deities as having different qualities which should be either accepted or rejected, you would be immeasurably obscured. It is inappropriate to regard the yidams as good or bad, and to accept or reject them. If you do not regard them like that, it will be excellent no matter how you practice.

Lady Tsogyal asked the master: Through performing the approach to one tathagata, will we accomplish the mind of all sugatas?

The master replied: By practicing with a vast view and remaining in the nature, you will attain stability in a yidam deity. When you complete the recitation, you will accomplish the activities of all the victorious ones without exception by simply commencing them.

Lady Tsogyal asked the Master: If one’s view is high, is it permissible to dispense with the yidam deity?

The master replied: If you attain confidence in the correct view then that itself is the yidam deity. Do not regard the yidam deity as a form body. Once you realize the nature of dharmakaya you will have accomplished the yidam deity.

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